Blue Origin’s spaceship survives fiery flight

Stage separation
The payload capsule on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship lights up its in-flight escape rocket motor and separates from the booster below. (Credit: Blue Origin)

By Alan Boyle and Nat Levy

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is a happy man today, now that the wildest test flight ever conducted by his Blue Origin space venture has ended in the safe landing of an empty crew capsule as well as a fuel-filled rocket booster.

The most important outcome was the survival of the New Shepard spacecraft’s capsule, demonstrating that Blue Origin’s in-flight escape system works. The booster was a bonus.

Bezos said before the launch that he fully expected New Shepard’s booster to go boom. But in a pleasant surprise, the booster made a safe return to the ground, leading to cheers from the audience watching the live stream of the flight at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. And that’s nothing compared to the celebration that took place at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.

“That is one hell of a booster,” Bezos said in a post-landing tweet that was accompanied by a must-see Vine video.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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